Live Review || Vainstream Rockfest 2017

I wanted to attend Vainstream for the longest time and 2017 was my year. The opening night went smoothly, the festival sold out (how could it not with that lineup?) and yours truly was excited like a kid in a candy store. Small problem: it would be raining all day, starting at around the time the first band would go onstage. Not ideal if you're also carrying a camera. 

Chelsea Grin opened the Main stage at 09:45 and they were the perfect alternative to morning coffee. The band was on a mission to wake everyone up -and I believe they succeeded, judging by Alex Koheler's grin. One thing I noticed was how confident guitarist Stephen Ratishauser has become on stage, which makes his playing stand out even more. (7.5)

The Devil Wears Prada opened the EMP stage. I've said it before, I'll boldly say it again; this band is extremely underrated. It doesn't matter if they're playing an intimate club show or an open air festival, they will bring the house down. Excellent performance, crystal clear sound and a certain Mike Hranica facing his demons over and over. (8.5)

This was the fourth time seeing Northlane and at his point, I swear I always have a genuine smile on my face after each performance. The band has grown to become an inspiring band with a solid sound. Starting off with "Quantum Flux", they got some people moving in the front, screaming "set me free" along with Marcus Bridge. Their short setlist consisted mainly of songs from their latest album, "Mesmer", and a couple honorable mentions to their previous releases. A great performance, no doubt. (9)

As the day progressed, it became harder to move from one stage to the other but I wouldn't miss The Black Dahlia Murder. The band was in a good mood despite playing in daylight. Their setlist was on point, although they didn't have the best sound when they got on stage. Luckily it was sorted quickly, but even that didn't bother the crowd to enjoy them. Imagine our joy surprise when they announced that, since First Blood cancelled, they would be headlining the after party at the Green Hell Clubstage, playing "a completely different set" for "drunk people tired of the boybands". Fair enough. (7)

On to While She Sleeps. Another act I wanted to check out live for the longest time. From the second the band stepped on stage people went wild, crowdsurfing and screaming along. The energy was highly contagious and "Seven Hills" found Loz Taylor jumping off stage and onto the barricade, sharing the mic with the kids. Their clean sound really boosted their performance while the restless Mat Welsh complimented amazingly well Taylor's vocals. While She Sleeps is hands down the best band of their generation. (9)

Nasty playing in a German crowd only meant they were in their element. The kids were fully responsive to the band's gimmicks, quite literally embracing Matthi when he climbed on top of the barricade. Quite frankly, I expected nothing less from their performance. (7)

Obey The Brave opened the Throwdown stage with "Get Real". Despite missing one guitarist, the quartet did a spectacular job. Their lively and energetic performance focused on their latest record, "Mad Season" and got the kids pumped and crowdsurfing. To be honest, I was curious as to how Alex Erian's vocal melodies would work on a live setting and I'm happy I wasn't disappointed. (9) 

At that point, the fight of the Canadians started. I was sort of bummed to leave OTB's stage before they were over to make it back to on time to see Comeback Kid. Smoke covered the stage and a familiar voice yelled "Wasted Arrows!". CBK has a lot of experience under their belts to turn every show into a party. Among the time-tested older pit hits, it was very pleasant to see that the new song, "Absolute", got warm reactions. (8)

Against Me! is renown for putting on highly energetic shows. After 38 consecutive shows, Vainstream would be their final stop so the band gave all they had. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn't fully appreciative of the fact. Starting off with "Pints Of Guinness..." and "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", they set the bar high. After 40’ of lively punk rock, smiles and jumps, Against Me! said their goodbyes. An amazing live act that deserved a better crowd. (8) 

I missed Of Mice & Men in Italy but it wouldn't happen twice. It's truly remarkable that this band has overcome so many things and is still going strong. Aaron Pauley has more than efficiently assumed the role of the frontman, keeping a great balance between his trademark clean singing (extra points for being on point in the high notes) and his growls. The new songs sound promising, while the older material still sound great. Imagine the arena kneeling down and jumping back up for "The Depths". Majestic performance, a highlight of the day no doubt. (8.5)

I was really looking forward to catching Brutality Will Prevail on this festival. After releasing a mental album earlier this year, they were back in action looking better than ever. They started the festival season with an eruptive set at Groezrock, which resulted in vocalist Louis Gauthier leaving the stage with a bloody nose. BWP has a very unique sound and an intense stage presence that made the already pumped kids in the front sing along to most songs. It was hard not to be carried away by the electricity in the room -in a literal way when it came to the Gauthier himself (the fact that, on his last stagedive, he was practically shouting to the crowd to get him back to the stage is a completely different story). (8)

On to Architects. We have already mentioned that "All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us" wasn't a big hit with us, but the band will always have a top notch performance so we will keep coming back. This show was no exception, as the crowdsurfing continued and the crowd screamed most of the lyrics loud and clear. Sam Carter had a look of accomplishment with the feedback they received from this welcoming crowd. And really, how could he not? It was also good to see guitarist Josh Middleton (of Sylosis) back on stage, adding to their performance with his excellent skills. (8)

As I had an interview planned, I missed most of Dropkick Murphys' set but what I caught from the back was quite pleasant. (7)

Moving back to the front for A Day To Remember was a very difficult task. The band has stepped up their performance with an enrupturing stage production. The opener "All I Want" got people moving and singing from the first note, while "I'm Made Of Wax, Larry..." found Mike Hranica on stage screaming his recorded part like it was 2009. As the show progressed, Jeremy McKinnon invited the audience to engage into advanced crowdsurfing; one person crowdsurfing as usual, and another standing on top of them. The setlist had a fair share of older material which I didn't mind at all. Of course, when "If It Means A Lot To You" was introduced, most couples people in the arena sang along at the top of their lungs. "Downfall Of Us All" ended the set  just like any good party should; with the explosion of confetti. Good times! (8)

Broilers headlined the main stage and, at that point, it was pretty much impossible to move, as people wouldn't budge from their places. I may not be a fan of their music but I must admit that, with a beer in hand, they were fun to watch from afar. Slightly inebriated people of all ages sang along, throwing fingers in the air during "Meine Sache", seemingly enjoying the gesture. After about an hour or so, Broilers left the stage and their audience with grins on their faces. (7)

Unfortunately, I was late for the after party and couldn't get in the Clubstage. Despite the light rain, people passing out in the pit or getting injured, I believe the festival was rather successful. We enjoyed a ton of good bands, had beer and great food, caught up with old friends and even made some new. Thank you Vainstream, see you next year!

(All pictures by Dearohwell Photography)
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